Unions call for €280 billion jobs investment

Thursday 6th June 2013

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for massive investment – of between €140 billion and €280 billion – in a European jobs and recovery programme. Speaking in Dublin yesterday (Wednesday) ETUC general secretary Bernadette Ségol said austerity policies had failed and investment of between 1-2% of EU-wide GDP was needed to create jobs and relaunch the European economy.

The European-wide federation, which includes the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), wants funds to go to green reindustrialisation, youth employment and other projects.

Ms Ségol said massive investment was needed to re-boost the economy, create jobs and rebuild ‘social Europe’ – an EU based on decent work, citizens’ rights and strong public services. “Trust and confidence in the very worth of the European project have been eroded and undermined in recent years because we have seen the European social model undermined and weakened.

“That means lower living standards, lower employment standards and weaker social protection for millions of European citizens. We need nothing less than a ‘new deal’ for Europe, in order to regenerate economies stripped bare by austerity, and communities laid waste by service cuts,” she said.

Ms Ségol accused EU leaders of “empty rhetoric” on jobs and growth. “The empty rhetoric of EU leaders about going beyond austerity and stimulating new growth and jobs will not convince citizens as long as polices concentrate on ‘structural reforms’ which weaken the social dimension of our economy,” she said.

The union leader said the EU’s ‘youth guarantee’ – aimed at giving all unemployed young people training or work experience – was not enough. “We support the ‘youth guarantee’ but without a recovery programme unemployment projects will fail. It is not enough to solve the problem of unemployment,” she said.

ICTU general secretary David Begg said there was a structural weakness at the heart of the EU, which guaranteed that the full burden of economic adjustment fell on workers and their families. He called for a rebalancing of European institutions to give more practical weight to social policy, employment and workers’ rights.

“Social policy remains at national level but economic policy is centralised and no EU institution matches the power of the European Central Bank. We need to centralise European social policy as a counterweight to the European Central Bank,” he said.

The ETUC was holding its mid-term conference in Dublin under the theme ‘high noon for social Europe.’ Ms Ségol said her federation had been lobbying for policy change at EU level and with individual governments. She said European leaders had an opportunity to change course at their summit on 27th June. “If they fail us again, they will not be forgiven,” she said.

Read the Irish Times article by Bernadette Ségol and David Begg HERE.

Read a summary of the ETUC’s ‘Social Compact for Europe’ HERE.